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Call Gap: Survey Finds 54 Percent Of Search Marketers Don’t Track Phone Conversions From Search Campaigns

How important are offline phone calls to search marketers? Google has reported that 70 percent of mobile searchers have called a business directly from search results. BIA/Kelsey estimates inbound phone calls from mobile search will grow from roughly 40 billion this year to 70 billion in 2016. Yet…



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Lessons From Rand Fishkin: SEO Tactics To Love And Leave – Business 2 Community


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Lessons From Rand Fishkin: SEO Tactics To Love And Leave
Business 2 Community
Lessons From Rand Fishkin: SEO Tactics To Love And Leave image SEOTacticsLoveLeave 300×200 Raise your hand if you've ever had a client ask you, “Why am I not ranking on Google?” It's a question that we've all been asked at least once throughout our …

and more »

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Proven Tactics from 40+ Successful Brands – Register Now for SMX Social Media Marketing, Save $200

Many of the world’s most skilled and knowledgeable social media specialists will take the stage at SMX Social Media Marketing in Las Vegas, November 19-20. Speakers from brands and agencies will share challenges they’ve overcome and result-driving tactics that make them successful. You’ll hear…



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One Thing Is Missing From Facebook’s Research Guidelines: Respect For Its Users

When Facebook announced changes as to how it will conduct online research, there was one glaring omission in its new guidelines: There’s no mention of how the social network will treat its users moving forward.

Facebook faced quite the backlash from its emotional manipulation study published earlier this summer, in which it deliberately showed some users more positive or negative posts to see how they affected mood. In an effort to placate its critics with more transparency, the company issued new guidelines on Thursday to help it conduct online experiments more responsibly.

The framework includes a a more thorough vetting process for research proposals; a review panel that includes “senior subject-area researchers” and members of multiple teams at Facebook; a six-week training program to educate employees on research practices; and a new research website to publish Facebook’s academic studies.

See also: How To Opt Out Of Facebook’s Mind Altering Experiments

Facebook wants you to blindly trust it to be better, and not to worry about potentially becoming a participant in an experiment you didn’t sign up for. But Thursday’s blog post doesn’t instill that much confidence.

“What’s glaringly missing in this statement is the word ‘ethics’,” said Reynol Junco, an Iowa State professor and faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Center, in an interview. “There’s really no discussion of how they’re going to address the ethical concerns, and who their ethical experts are going to be, and what their ethical review process looks like.”

I spoke with Junco earlier this year, and he said the problem with the Facebook study—and what made it different from the research other companies conduct as a form of A/B testing—was the potential for harm in its experiments. As he said at th time:

Is what you get from the research worth doing the intervention, and if the answer is yes, what are you going to do to minimize the effects?  

Facebook is silent in this regard.

Clickwrap Consent

When Facebook first published the emotional contagion study, one of the biggest concerns was that the company did not get informed consent from users—meaning people had no idea they were a part of an experiment. Facebook manipulated people psychologically without getting their consent first.

The mood manipulation study may have been legal, but perhaps not ethical. According to The Atlantic, the experiments took place before any of the researchers consulted an institutional review board, which exist primarily to ensure the protection of human research subjects.  Facebook’s recent blog post says it will engage with the academic community, but doesn’t say if it will seek approval from review boards before doing similar research. 

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy watchdog organization, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming Facebook broke the law when it ran the experiment. That’s because the social network didn’t state specifically in its data policy that user information could be used in research. 

Facebook has revised its policy since, although it’s not yet clear whether it that change sufficient “informed consent” for future research purposes.

“The devil’s in the details—it’s a nice statement, but how is this going to work in practice?” Junco said. “I don’t see any talk about how … strong the user protections are going to be. They don’t really say how this isn’t going to happen again—is it just going to happen again, and they’ll say, look, we have clear guidelines and we have a panel?”

The guidelines are a good start, though, and increased transparency is at least somewhat promising sign. Facebook plans to apply the guidelines to both internal and public-facing experiments, for what that’s worth.

Lead photo by Robert Scoble

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Technology, Complacency, Innovation & Ad Targeting: Key Takeaways From Google@Manchester

Contributor Matt Clough shares inspirational and insightful details from the Google@Manchester event in the UK this week.

The post Technology, Complacency, Innovation & Ad Targeting: Key Takeaways From Google@Manchester appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Pinterest SEO: 7 Tips From A Pinterest Engineer [#SMX]

It’s not hard to make the case that Pinterest is a perfect social network for marketers, and Tailwind CEO Daniel Maloney hit upon the crux of the matter during a session this week at SMX East in New York. Twitter, he said, is mostly about what I’m doing; Facebook is about who I am; Pinterest…



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Pinterest SEO: 7 Tips From A Pinterest Engineer [#SMX] – Search Engine Land


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Pinterest SEO: 7 Tips From A Pinterest Engineer [#SMX]
Search Engine Land
Focus on writing keyword rich descriptions, building authority by increasing followers and finding less served niches to maximize your content's ranking on the popular social network. Martin Beck on October 3, 2014 at 9:05 am. More. pinterest-logo

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Lessons From Google@Manchester: You Don’t Need To Be Big To Be Best

Two talks at the annual Google@Manchester conference in the UK this week revealed the light at the end of the tunnel for SMEs everywhere.

The post Lessons From Google@Manchester: You Don’t Need To Be Big To Be Best appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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What Oracle Could Learn From Microsoft About The Cloud

Has this man seen the cloud?

Oracle still doesn’t get cloud computing. At Oracle OpenWorld this week, there were signs that Oracle was making serious changes to its business model, embracing cloud computing in a way that it hitherto hasn’t. Unfortunately, a review of what Oracle announced suggests that it has a long way to go before Oracle’s cloud becomes anything more than Larry Ellison’s derisive “water vapor.”  

Of course, Oracle was never going to be able to compete with Amazon in the cloud. That’s a bridge too far for a company that has spent decades licensing software. Lots of it.

Even so, if Oracle truly wants to better understand how to turn a massive, legacy data center business and orient it to the cloud, it need look no further than Microsoft. 

Oracle’s “Inconceivable” Cloud

Give points to Oracle chairman Larry Ellison: he knows how to put on a good show. Accuracy, however, isn’t always his strength. 

In the midst of his keynote, he slagged SAP for not powering any clouds but then went a bit too far, as CSC’s Simon Wardley points out:

Ellison, of course, referred to a few software-as-a-service applications. But when most people think of “cloud,” many (most?) think of the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service offerings that applications run on. Those overwhelmingly do not run on Oracle. 

But that’s semantics. The real problem with Oracle’s cloud announcements wasn’t the smearing of competitors or the grandiose boasts. It was the cloud, or lack thereof. 

For example, what Oracle calls a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) really … isn’t. It’s actually a hosted compute environment with software and support rented by the month. It’s also not fully managed, though Oracle suggests this will change in the future. 

Most bizarrely, one of the cardinal advantages of true cloud computing is the way it lets developers set up virtual servers themselves. Perhaps more than any other feature, such convenience has driven the adoption of AWS and other cloud services. Developers don’t want to have to talk to a salesperson in order to get stuff done. Yet clicking on Oracle’s “buy now” button on the DBaaS page reveals this “feature”:

All of which leads developer Jeff Waugh to channel The Princess Bride

It doesn’t have to be this way. Just ask Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Cloud Moment

Microsoft is very similar to Oracle in many ways. It, too, has a large software business that it wants to protect, even as it searches for ways to be relevant for an increasingly cloud-centric world. 

But Microsoft’s approach has been very different from Oracle’s. Unlike Oracle, Microsoft has actually delivered a host of software services that aren’t simply its old licensed software business dressed up in cloudy clothes. One area that is particularly impressive is Microsoft’s different databases it runs as services, including SQL Server and a new DocumentDB.

Of the latter, which has the potential to eat into Microsoft’s legacy database business, DataStax and Windows Azure MVP Kelly Sommers indicates that Microsoft built it right:

In a series of other tweets, she goes on to confirm that “The Microsoft Azure DocumentDB folks really know what they’re doing. Some really great database and distributed systems engineering in there.” 

But more than the engineering, Microsoft got the business model right. Microsoft’s cloud services, including its database services, are just that: services. Users self-provision. The databases are fully managed. 

And unlike Oracle, Microsoft has made open source a first-class citizen on its Azure cloud (the list of open-source software on Azure is impressive).

Competing In The Cloud

All of which is why I continue to believe Microsoft has a real chance to compete effectively in the cloud. Despite its legacy, Microsoft has demonstrated the ability to transform itself. Oracle, at least on the basis of its recent cloud announcements, has not.

Just as important, however, is Microsoft’s commitment to lowering the bar to computing. Just as Steven Pinker says of bad writing—”The curse of knowledge is the single best explanation of why good people write bad prose. It simply doesn’t occur to the writer that her readers don’t know what she knows”—so, too, is it with software. 

Too many software infrastructure developers assume too great a familiarity with the underlying code. Not so Microsoft, as Bill Bennett highlights: “Microsoft has created a cloud computing service that makes creating a server as simple as setting up a Word document.” 

Not everyone will want this, of course. But Microsoft keeps demonstrating that it understands the cloud and its developer audience very, very well. Oracle could learn a thing or 20 from Microsoft.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Triple Threat Optimization Techniques From Four Pros by @ChandalN

Search engine marketers won’t survive as one-trick ponies amongst fluctuating search algorithms mapping an ever-changing digital marketing landscape. The ongoing pressure to account for conversions weighted against the oncoming era of consumer-driven, usability-level personalization is immense. Digital marketers now have to account for more channels than ever before. Consider that new and existing forms of social media, mobile platforms, user privacy and security, video content, and native advertisements are just the tip of the digital marketer’s iceberg. Today, we have to be able to optimize for more than just the Google index. E-commerce websites have their own unique considerations when it […]

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